Consumer Payment Card News

U.S. Revolving Card Debt Falls Apart in March

U.S. revolving card debt fell apart in March declining 2.5% over March 2018. The decline produced the second weakest quarter for credit card debt over the past five years, growing a measly 1.4% over the first quarter of last year. Among the top four U.S. credit card issuers, with a 40%+ marketshare, credit card debt only increased 3.4% in the first-quarter.

U.S. consumers were spooked in the first three months of this year by the government shutdown and growing concerns the nine-year old economic recovery is winding down. Consumers were also dogged by record bad weather nationwide this winter. Not to mention the uncertainty plaguing investors over an imminent tariff war with China, inverted interest yields and sideways global consumer confidence.

U.S. Revolving Consumer Credit

Global Concerns

Credit card issuers are also concerned with rising delinquency and loss rates, beefing up loan loss reserves. Some issuers are already tightening up underwriting standards.

Without question the first quarter of 2019 will go down as one of the wackiest ever for consumer credit, not only in the U.S., but also the U.K. and Australia.

The year-on-year (YOY) growth rate of consumer revolving debt (97% credit card debt) for March came in at -2.5%, compared to a revised +3.5% YOY for February, and a revised +3.2% YOY for January, according to figures released by the Federal Reserve this afternoon.

On a quarterly basis revolving consumer credit grew at an annual revised rate of 1.4% in the first quarter of 2019, compared to a revised annual rate of +0.7% in the first quarter of 2018.

Looking at revolving consumer credit, on annual basis, the revised growth rate for 2018 was 3.1%, compared to 5.6% for 2017; 6.8% in 2016; 5.4% for 2015; and 3.9% for 2014.

Total revolving consumer credit outstandings stood at $1057.2 billion for March, compared to a revised $1059.4 billion for February, and a revised $1056.3 billion for January.

Non-revolving credit increased at an annual rate of 5.0% in March.

Total consumer credit, at the end of March, stood at $4052.1 billion, after crossing the $4 trillion milestone in November.

U.S. Consumer Revolving Credit Card Debt

1Q/15: $895.9 billion
2Q/15: $911.5 billion
3Q/15: $924.2 billion
4Q/15: $938.8 billion
1Q/16: $953.2 billion
2Q/16: $968.1 billion
3Q/16: $980.7 billion
4Q/16: $1000.1 billion
1Q/17: $980.4 billion
2Q/17: $991.5 billion
3Q/17: $1003.5 billion
4Q/17: $1022.1 billion
1Q/18: $1023.9 billion
2Q/18: $1024.2 billion
3Q/18: $1040.5 billion
4Q/18: $1053.5 billion
01/19: $1057.2 billion

U.S. Consumer Revolving Credit Card Debt YOY Change

1Q/15: 2.0%
2Q/15: 6.9%
3Q/15: 5.6%
4Q/15: 5.7%
1Q/16: 6.1%
2Q/16: 6.3%
3Q/16: 5.2%
4Q/16: 7.9%
1Q/17: 4.5%
2Q/17: 4.5%
3Q/17: 4.8%
4Q/17: 5.6%
1Q/18: 0.7%
2Q/18: 3.2%
3Q/18: 3.4%
4Q/18: 5.0%
01/19: 1.4%

Additional Current & Historical Monthly Data on U.S. Consumer Credit

New and Revised Data as of 05/07/19

Top 4 U.S. Revolving Credit Card Debt

First-quarter revolving credit card debt, among the Top 4 U.S. issuers, grew 3.4% year-on-year (YOY), compared to 1.5% in the prior quarter. Among the nation’s Top 4 credit card issuers (Chase [JPM], Capital One [COF], Bank of America [BAC], and Citibank [C]), the annual growth rate for U.S. end-of-period (EOP) credit card outstandings in the first-quarter (1Q/19) is the lowest in the past five years.

For the first-quarter U.S. credit card EOP outstandings, among the Top 4 posted at $431.6 billion, compared to $454.1 billion for 4Q/18, and $417.6 billion for 1Q/18. For the first quarter of 2015, the Top 4 reported $348.2 billion in U.S. EOP credit card outstandings, according to figures collected by CardData.

Chase Revolving Credit Card Debt

Chase EOP U.S. credit card outstandings increased by 7.2% YOY for 1Q/19. At the end of the first quarter Chase had $150.5 billion in U.S. EOP credit card outstandings, compared to $156.6 billion at the end of the prior quarter and $140.4 billion at the end of 1Q/18. For the first quarter of 2015, Chase reported $123.3 billion in U.S. EOP credit card outstandings.

Capital One Revolving Credit Card Debt

Capital One EOP U.S. credit card outstandings edged up 2.6% YOY. At the end of 1Q/19 Capital One had $101.1 billion in U.S. EOP credit card outstandings, compared to $107.4 billion at the end of the prior quarter and $98.5 billion at the end of the year ago quarter. For the first-quarter of 2015, Capital One reported U.S. credit card EOP outstandings of $74.1 billion.

Bank of America Revolving Credit Card Debt

Bank of America EOP U.S. credit card outstandings were flat YOY for 1Q/19. At the end of the first quarter Bank of America had $93.0 billion in U.S. EOP credit card outstandings, compared to $98.3 billion at the end of the prior quarter and $93.0 billion at the end of 1Q/18. For the first quarter of 2015, Bank of America reported $87.3 billion in U.S. EOP credit card outstandings.

Citibank Revolving Credit Card Debt

Citibank EOP credit card outstandings increased by 1.5% YOY for 1Q/19. At the end of the first quarter Citibank had $87.0 billion in N.A. EOP credit card outstandings, compared to $91.8 billion at the end of the prior quarter and $85.7 billion at the end of 1Q/18. For the first quarter of 2015, Citibank reported $63.5 billion in N.A. EOP credit card outstandings.

U.K. Revolving Credit Card Debt

U.K. consumer credit card lending settled at £72.8 billion for a 6.6% YOY gain in March, compared to a revised £72.7 billion or a 6.3% YOY gain in February, and compared to a revised £72.5 billion for a 6.5% YOY increase for January 2019. One-year ago U.K. consumer credit card lending settled at £70.7 billion, according to figures collected by CardData.

Net credit card borrowing fell slightly on the month due to stronger repayments. Though at £0.3 billion, this was in line with its average since July 2018, according to the Bank of England.

Australia Revolving Credit Card Debt

Australians credit cards have been in hiding in the outback as credit card debt declined 1.7% in February year-on-year (YOY), to its lowest level since the winter of 2017, while the number of credit card accounts diminished by 730,000 since February 2018. Credit card spending was also sluggish increasing by a mere 1.5% YOY in February, according to CardData.

Credit card balances declined 1.7% YOY in February, following a 2.1% YOY decline in January, according to Australian credit card balance and usage data released by the Reserve Bank of Australia. Australians owed AU$51.3 billion in February, compared to AU$51.2 billion for January and AU$52.2 billion for February 2018.

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Source: Federal Reserve; RAM Research; CardFlash; CardData; CardTrak; Chase; Capital One; Bank of America; Citibank; Bank of England; Reserve Bank of Australia